Archive

Posts Tagged ‘supervillains’

Day One Hundred and Forty-five: A Little Rain

October 13, 2011 1 comment

“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”
-Robert Frost

There’s not a whole lot of places you can go after you nearly destroy the world.

Prison, sure. If you’re into that kind of thing.

Unfortunately, I’m not. I’ve been to prison before, of course – any good supervillain has. The odd bank robbery, maybe a hostage situation. Property damage, that kind of thing. Frankly, I’m of the opinion that if you’re a supervillain and you haven’t been to prison, then you’re just not setting your sights high enough. And boy did I set my sights high. Tornado swarms, a pair of force-5 hurricanes. The wind was at my fingertips, and everything was going my way. For a while, at least.

My mother’s house in Queens was just like I remembered it. A squat little brick affair set back from the road. You had to walk up a couple of steps from the sidewalk and open a flimsy little gate to get to the front door, which she never used anyway. As far as she was concerned, only visitors would use the front door. It opened into the living room, which she kept spotless with the kind of obsession that soldiers usually reserve for cleaning their guns. The living room was the one room in the house that I never went into, on pain of death. Back when I was still into that whole “following the rules” thing. By the time I grew out of it, my rebellious urges had grown pretty far beyond sitting on mom’s plastic-covered sofa. In her house, the side door was good enough for family.

I knocked on the front door. This is mom, not the White House. I can’t assume anything anymore.

There was a moment of dreadful silence, and then the slow unlocking of the five deadbolts that she’d installed over the years. The door cracked inward, and I saw half of my mother’s face peek out of the darkness. I spread my arms wide and dropped my duffel bag to the ground. “Ma!” I said, forcing cheer out in my voice in waves. “Look who’s home!”

Her dark eyes glanced up and down just once. Then she said, “Come around to the side.” The door slammed, and she slowly started redoing all the locks.

My mother’s house was like a time capsule, where everything just stopped changing somewhere around 1992. She had the same appliances, the same fixtures, the same wallpaper. I felt bad when I realized that I had never once offered to buy mom a new fridge or something, no matter how much I stole. She’d never say anything, of course. But I knew that she knew that I was thinking it. Somehow.

I put my bag down on one of the kitchen chairs and sat in the other. My mother started fixing a glass of iced tea.

I suppose that everyone goes through this when they grow up, but my mom looked so… small. Her hair was dark, but there was gray starting to show through, and she moved more slowly than I remembered. She was wearing houseclothes – a pair of sweatpants and a sweatshirt that matched. This from the woman who had a knockoff Chanel and a fake pearl necklace that she would wear just to go out to the supermarket. Something had happened to my mother, and I suspected that it was somehow my fault.

That could just be my mother’s superpower, though. I can control weather, she can make even a hardened supervillain mike me feel incredibly guilty without even saying a word.

She put the iced tea on the table in front of me and then took the remaining chair. The tea was super-sweet, of course. For a little while, it was just us and the tick-tocking of the cat clock on the wall.

Finally, she said, “I saw you on TV last week.”

I just nodded and sipped my tea.

“That hurricane of yours ruined my gardening.” She gestured out to her tiny backyard garden. The usual chaotic rush of flowers and vegetables was just a broken pile of leaves and stems. “It was just about time for the dahlias, too.”

“Sorry, mom,” I mumbled around the glass.

We sat there for a while longer. I started out the window a little more, and I missed the sunflowers that should have been just about over by now.

“Will the police be coming by?” she asked.

I shook my head. “I never let them know who I was,” I said. “A friend of mine hacked into the Department of National Security database for me. They think I’m from Jersey.” This got as much of a laugh out of her as I could expect – a dry chuckle.

She stood up, slowly. “I’ll make up your bed,” she said.

“Mom.” I reached out and took her arm gently. “Mom, let me take care of that.”

“Nonsense.” She swept my hand away. “I’m your mother.”

And that was it. She walked down the hall to where my old room used to be. I was by myself in the museum kitchen, just me and my iced tea and a spare costume in the duffel bag. And no plan. No idea what I was going to do next. I stood up and looked out the window at the garden. Amidst the mess, mom had cleared out a space in the corner. There were a couple of plants growing there – I have no idea what they were. Green is green, as far as I’m concerned. But they were growing. I concentrated a little, and a brief rain fell around the plants. Just a bit of water sucked out of the air. Nothing dramatic. A little rain.

Mom wouldn’t let me go too far, I was pretty sure. She couldn’t solve my problems. She couldn’t make the police leave me alone, or make the heroes let up or anything like that. But there was iced tea. There was a bed and some time to sit down and figure things out.

That would be enough.

Day One Hundred and Thirteen: Dear Diary

September 11, 2011 Leave a comment

September 11th, 2011

Dear Diary,

There are some days you just want to leave alone. You want to step quietly and not raise a fuss, and wait until it’s over. I guess this is one of ’em. All those months of planning, working out the bugs and getting my ducks in a row, I guess the time just slid by me. I was all ready for the Big Day, my day to shine, and then I actually turn on a TV for once and…

Ah, well. Could happen to anyone, I guess.

You would think that it wouldn’t matter so much, even to a guy like me, but it does. It really does. I mean, all you see on TV are those videos of those towers falling and people screaming, and you know – you know what’s going to happen next, and it just Breaks. My. Heart. The whole country goes nuts and empties its coffers chasing shadows around the globe. Civil liberties get bent and twisted into granny knots. Hell, that halfwit President actually managed to get re-elected, and if I were a betting man, I would never have put money on that. Nuh-uh. But I guess you can’t underestimate what kind of dumb shit a frightened populace will pull, when its back is up against the wall. Something to remember, I suppose, for all of us in Tha Biz.

And you know I wasn’t the only one taking notes on that day, right? The blogs were just humming with activity – screen captures, photographs, and theory after theory after theory. There were at least two guys actually down there taking air samples and trying to figure out if some kind of hallucinogenic chemtrail gas had been released and the towers were actually still standing. Dumb idea, that. Mind control gasses don’t work through TV cameras, I told one of ’em, but he wouldn’t listen. The rest of us just started spinning out scenarios whenever we were able to tear ourselves away from the news.

Here’s the weird thing about that day: the people who remember it – i.e. everyone – don’t remember it the way they think they do. Did you know that there are people out there who honestly and truly believe they saw the first plane hit the tower on live TV? I know, right! Even Dubya thinks he saw it, and unless those nutball Truthers are right, he’s retouched his memories just like the rest of us did. And that’s what really amazes me about humans, you know? That we can take something real, an event that truly, objectively, measurably happened, and just… change it! Just like that! We have the power to utterly alter reality with that little three pounds of  meat between our ears, and that’s without any kind of ESP or alien mind control rays or time-lost mental manipulation helmets. Utterly fascinating.

That probably explains why Charlene broke up with me. Hey-yo!

Well, that, and the arrest, but I think she really overreacted to that. It’s not like anyone died, or anything. Well, not died. You look back on it, and it’s a funny story. It would have been great for the grandkids, but no – little miss Law and Order doesn’t want to have grandkids with a convicted felon. Fine. ExcUUUUUUSe me. I’ll just take my clone army and go home, then.

After three to five years.

Where was I? Oh. Yeah. That day. The whole re-making of reality thing aside, that day taught me so many lessons. The more you step back and really look at it, you really see how the world works, you know? I mentioned the Truthers before, right? They’re brilliant – I love ’em. I wouldn’t want to sit down to dinner with one of them or anything, but they are a classic example of how people can believe what they want to believe, no matter what actually happened. They see fire acting in a way they don’t expect fire to act, and they connect the dots themselves. BAM – thermite. They see a building fall the way they don’t think a building should fall. BAM – controlled demolition.

So that’s trick number one: find out what people already believe, and reinforce that belief. Then they’re all yours. In the palm of your hand, as it were. So if I were to, say, spread rumors about a certain political figure that he was secretly associated with the nation’s sworn enemies, well… There’d be a population of folks who’d believe it, right? Even if the “evidence” was a picture I’d drawn in crayon and pulled off a refrigerator, they’d swallow it whole! Put a little money into a nice video presentation, hack into the screens around Times Square? One maniacal laugh and I’d have their hearts and minds before you knew it.

And why? Because they’re scared. You watch thousands of people die and two huge buildings just crumble to rubble and see if you don’t have to go change your shorts. I had thought that movies and video games had really inured people to violence on a massive scale, but it turned out not to be the case. People are just as capable of succumbing to utter mindless terror as they ever were. The fact that it was a freak, one-off occurrence? The fact that your chances of dying in another attack like that were essentially zero? The fact that twice that many people die in the United States every day, just by being there? None of it mattered. People were terrified.

Which is why they call it terrorism. Duh.

But the best part was that even people who were nowhere near New York and Washington were scared! There were folks down in Taint County, Arkansas who were utterly convinced that the tehrists were going to fly a plane into their municipal waste treatment plant any minute now. The whole country was completely controlled by fear, and they let it happen. The government took advantage of it to try and remake the Middle East, the media used it to boost ratings, and that ol’ devil Bin Laden used it to stroke his own ego. Resources that could have gone to helping people were poured into a financial black hole, and everyone was so focused on that one little thing that they didn’t see their entire economy curling up and devouring itself. I just think about that and the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

That one act – that one, simple act utterly changed the world that day. Nineteen guys with box cutters, for god’s sake. Not an unstoppable giant robot or a moon base from which to rain destruction, or even a canister of horrible neurotoxin attached to a dirigible, the way they used to do it in the good old days. Some half-trained zealots with sharp implements and all the conviction in the world.

Man. There’s no way I can top that.

So I’ve powered down the robots, left the internet unhacked, and set my orbital space laser to standby. Oh, don’t worry, diary – I haven’t given up just yet. My undersea dome has escaped detection so far, probably because it’s not sitting on an oil field or anything. And before you ask, no – I had nothing to do with that quake in Japan. That was probably someone else, someone too dumb to claim responsibility for a perfectly good tsunami.

It just wouldn’t seem fair, is all. I know, I know – when did I ever care about fairness? True. But still, even in the world-domination profession, you have to have some standards.

Besides, Bin Laden would probably just take credit for it anyway. I swear, I put that man’s brain inside a robot body as a favor, and suddenly he thinks he’s just King Terror. I guess some people’s standards are just a little bit lower than others.

Well, diary, I gotta go. I may not be conquering the world today, but that doesn’t mean I have to sit on my hands. That army of lava men isn’t going to train itself.

See ya.