[ Entertaining idea, poor execution. ]
The thunderous explosion woke Tanim from an especially pleasant dream, the bed beneath him trembling with the force of the impact. “God dammit, not again,” he cursed as he cast off the sheets entangling his legs with one hand and groped on the floor for his pants with the other. Smoke and plaster powder choked the air so thickly that he had to cover his mouth as he threw open the bedroom door and navigated down the hallway through the gloomy early morning light.
Shattered glass glittered like fresh snow amid the ruins of his furniture; the blast had not only taken out the floor to ceiling windows, but almost everything else in the living room as well. A scraping sound drew Tanim’s attention to the figure climbing through the broken window. The intruder was dressed in red spandex, a billowing black cape fluttering from his shoulders. He looked like an 80s power ballad version of the Devil, right down to the horned helmet perched on his head. Glowering, Tanim kicked at a hunk of couch cushion. “The front door wasn’t even locked, you know,” he fumed. “And I just had that window replaced.”
Ignoring Tanim’s complaint, the man straightened and brandished a golden pitchfork shaped rifle in his face. “Hah! You thought your identity would remain a secret forever, but you can’t hide behind a mask now! How powerful are you without your fancy gadgets and bulletproof suit?”
Far from alarmed by the weapon aimed at his head, Tanim only eyed his assailant blankly. “Do I know you?” he inquired, clearly unimpressed.
“Don’t try to play dumb!” The three pronged gun waved in his face. “I know you cower in terror before the unstoppable might of your greatest nemesis, The Red Menace!”
“The Red Menace?” Tanim shrugged helplessly. “Never heard of you. Who exactly do you think I am? And that’s a god-awful name, by the way.” The Red Menace hesitated, lowering the ridiculous firearm as he inspected the half-dressed man for the first time. “Aren’t you Lone Wolf?” he asked dubiously. He had been so sure this penthouse apartment was actually the entrance to his nemesis’ secret lair, but when Tanim shook his head The Red Menace began throwing out whatever possibilities came to mind.
Another head shake. “I wish. That guy has the sweetest bull whip.”
Tanim snorted. “You’re kidding me, right? Do you see tiger skin rugs and an African Savannah motif in here?”
“Doctor Fantastic? Blackbird? The Silver Sentinel?”
“Now you’re just grasping at straws. God, you people are always getting this wrong. Don’t you have fact checking henchmen or something? I mean, do I look like a fucking superhero to you?”
The Red Menace had to admit that no, this man didn’t fit the usual superhero format: he wasn’t exactly what one would call muscular, nor did he have a dashing cleft chin, immaculately styled hair, and an aura of perfection about him. In fact, if anything he was a little on the skinny side and his tangled hair suggested he had been taken quite unawares as no true superhero could. Well, now The Red Menace felt downright sheepish. “…not really,” he admitted with great disappointment, “no. I just thought… must have mixed up the addresses… Well, I guess I’ll go. Sorry about the window, man.” With that, The Red Menace leaped out the broken window, his cape stretching out into a great black hang-glider to carry him over the city roofs.
“Hey, wait!” Tanim ran toward the window, dancing around piles of glass shards. “You gotta pay for my– oh fuck it, he’s gone.”
“And what was all that about?”
Tanim turned to find Daren leaning against the fireplace mantle, his lover’s gray silk robe draped across his slim shoulders. Tanim sighed; he had always known he would have to reveal this complicated part of his life to the man eventually, but he had hoped he might be able to choose the time and place. He gestured helplessly toward the gaping hole in his apartment where The Red Menace had escaped, trying to formulate an explanation that didn’t sound sound completely insane. With another audible sigh, he thought fuck it and dove in.
“These super villains keep breaking into my apartment. They’re convinced I must be some superhero in disguise because I’m a well known bachelor with a trust fund who lives alone in the nicest penthouse apartment in the city. They burst in here with their plasma guns and theme-y spandex outfits, gloating about how they’re going to finish me ‘once and for all’. It’s such a hassle, really, especially since I have to buy new furniture every time and get that damned window replaced. They just won’t accept that I’m not secretly a do-gooder.”
Tanim wasn’t sure what reaction he had expected from Daren, but certainly not the dry laugh which followed his absurd confession.“It’s too bad you aren’t,” Daren mused. “Maybe they’d leave you alone if you already had an arch-nemesis.” Tanim’s jaw fell open. Daren raised a suspicious eyebrow. “…what?” Dancing back over the snowfall of glass, Tanim grinned and planted a kiss on Daren’s cheek. “That’s brilliant!”
“You’re not serious,” Daren choked. His lover shrugged, eyes lit with inspiration. “Why not? It’d work! All I’d need is some silly outfit and a name; it’s not like I’d have to actually fight crime or anything. I’d just be a normal guy disguised as a superhero disguised as a normal guy. It’s perfect!”
“But you’d still need a nemesis,” Daren pointed out, ever the voice of reason in a situation that was quickly losing what little reason there might have been left. “They’d have to be in on it too. Who the hell would be crazy enough to join your farce?” Tanim only smiled. Daren groaned. “…oh no. No way.”
– – – –
The window disintegrated in a shower of broken glass. Master Mayhem leaped down from his glossy silver hover board, adjusting his black top hat as he landed. “Come out and face your destiny, Captain Glory!” he bellowed into the dissipating smoke. “Or are you too much a coward to crawl from your bed and fight me like a man?!”
“Captain Glory isn’t available right now, I’m afraid,” a silky voice informed him from somewhere in the haze. “He’s had a rather… tiring… night already.” As the air cleared, Master Mayhem found himself face to face with a slender young man garbed in an immaculate white suit and black gloves ending in long, wicked claws. “Who the hell are you?” Master Mayhem growled, sizing up the fair haired stranger. The man crossed his arms, tapping one razored finger impatiently. “The Wraith,” he replied with a scowl, as if Master Midnight should have recognized him on sight. “And Captain Glory is my arch, so I suggest you go after someone a little more your level. I hear Meteor Man needs a new nemesis.”
The Wraith? Master Mayhem hadn’t heard of the guy, nor was he particularly impressed with the arrogant young upstart and his complete lack of theatrical costuming. He snorted and began to draw his Magnificent Mayhem Machine but before he could raise the electroinverter nega-gun to teach this newbie a lesson, The Wraith shot forward and with very little pomp or circumstance shoved him out the high-rise window. In a world of death rays and extended, elaborate evil scheme monologues, The Wraith prided himself on simplicity.
“I don’t remember telling you to kill him.” Tanim sauntered into the living room, dressed only in a pair of black slacks and the two black cords which dangled from his wrists. Daren gave a smooth shrug as he turned. “Ah, he’ll be fine; they always are. He probably has a perfectly dastardly emergency parachute.” He favored his companion with an impish grin. “Captain Glory is a ridiculous name, by the way. I nearly laugh every time I say it and it ruins the whole effect. And anyway, I thought you were tied up.”
“I don’t know, I think it has a nice ring to it,” Tanim grinned whimsically. “Captain Glory versus The Wraith! Very epic.” He lifted one arm, indicating the half-knotted bond with a smirk. “And I escaped. It’s what we superheroes do.”
Daren stalked forward, snagging the cord in a clawed hand. “Well, I’ll just have to remedy that, won’t I?” he threatened as he tugged Tanim back down the hallway.