Monday, 23 December 2013

Halls of Glory (Writer's Quibble prose)

This is a prose piece that was published in The Writer's Quibble. The theme of the issue was origins. Special thanks go to Quibble editor Tom Ashton for letting me repost it here. 

The gloriously well-lit entrance promises a history of the men of tomorrow. Howard grinned at the brass statue of Captain Eternity holding the Earth with a single hand. On the plaque it reads “Captain Eternity; the best of us; a leader of peace and justice”. Howard’s grin faded a little, in the brief while he knew Captain Eternity he knew him as a domineering, aggressive man. Not quite the poster child for everything that’s good in the world. Howard pondered for a moment: I guess that kind of power and position would drive anyone to become a bit of an asshole.
On the far side of the statue’s base was a brief biography.
“Captain Eternity: Born from a poor family in the Bronx, Alex Capricorn was a solitary child. As an adult he spent his time moving between blue collar jobs. It was an accident working in a particle physics lab as a janitor that transformed his life and the lives of thousands of others. Alex was subjected to the same primordial forces that accelerated evolution in the early days of earth. He was granted enhanced speed, agility and strength, as well as the ability to fly and produce concussive blasts from his hands. It is speculated that he also had telepathy.”
Howard found himself rather dumbstruck. Shit, he thought, that bastard had telepathy? That explains a lot. It explained how he knew Firebug would turn on the Miracle Squad. Why he kicked the Alpha-Man off the team. The guy must have read Alpha-Man’s mind, realised he was embezzling team funds.
“Son of a bitch” Howard muttered aloud.
Around the statue pictures were being taken, the bluish light bounced off of the polished brass, Howard winced and readjusted his spectacles. One avid looking tourist had multiple flashes on and was stood uncomfortably close. Howard thrust a hand into his shoulder.
“Hey buddy, mind not flashing that thing so damn close? Some of us got sensitive eyes.”
Howard ignored the man as he floundered with an apology. Beyond Captain Eternity’s statue was the gallery of other members of the Miracle Squad. The B-listers. Guys like Alpha-Man and Captain Eternity had their own sections. Anyone else got a little mention in this gallery. Firebug wasn’t in here, made sense. Howard’s chest pranged with nostalgia when he saw the portrait of Reptile-Girl, and her famous silver bracers. Her bio was actually wrong. Howard knew exactly where she got her powers from. It wasn’t an accident like with Captain Eternity, like the bio said. She knew what she was getting into, human genome enhancement experiments involving various animal test subjects. It gave her skin that could deflect bullets. Howard remembered the Christmas party when she told him. She told him she knew what would happen in the experiment, she was smarter than everyone gave her credit for. Not a good drinker though, if he remembered correctly. Howard looked closely at the silver bracers. They still had that long scratch on them from when he threw them on the bedroom along with the rest of her clothes.
He wandered the echoing corridors until he saw what he was looking for. A torn piece of cloth stretched over a pedestal, illuminated by an overhead light. It was an insignia; black ‘A’ against a field of red; the insignia of Alpha-Man. Howard took his hat off and pressed it to his chest. Around the edges were grey with ash and dotted with blood. Howard heard a familiar voice behind him.
“You know he has a grave, right?”
Jack Maximilien’s voice was high pitched and felt like it cut through your skull. Howard recognized him straight away.
“Jack. Leave me alone.” Howard said.
“Oh get over it already. Firebug killed him. Not you.” His high pitch resonated around the small room.
“Why are you here anyway? In case you hadn’t noticed there are no villains to pay homage to.”
“Get off your high horse Howard. Firebug may have burned Alpha-Man but someone still told him where to find him.”
Howard threw his hat to the floor and faced Jack, his eyes narrowing behind his glasses. Jack smiled.
“Give over Shadow Knight. We don’t do this anymore. Besides, if I remember rightly I kicked your ass last time.”
Howard looked down at the marble floor. He picked his hat up, dusted it off and put it back on again.
“I- err… I don’t go by Shadow Knight anymore.” Howard said.
Jack wiped his forehead and sighed.
“Sorry. I was going to try to cheer you up. Let’s umm… Let’s get a beer.”
Howard’s mouth dropped a little. He didn’t say anything. Jack tried to put on a friendly face.
“Yeah, come on. I mean, you just said you’re not Shadow Knight anymore. I’m not Blackjack either. We’re just two guys who know each other catching up.”
“I don’t know” Howard mumbled before looking at Jack’s desperate attempt to look accommodating, “Pfft, go on then.”
“Atta boy Howie!” Jack said as he slapped Howard’s shoulder.
The two men walked out of the museum together, arms over each other’s shoulders.
“Hey” Howard started, “Did you know Captain Eternity was telepathic? I wonder if he knew about me and Reptile Girl.”
“Howard, I was fighting you guys and I knew.”


Andrew Krska, 'Halls of Glory':

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