A Rose by Any Other Name is Still a Superhero Coming to the Rescue
My name is Thaddeus Jackson. Currently, I am saving someone’s life.
I know what you’re thinking. But Thad, just an issue ago you were robbing a bank and hurting people. Just what in God’s name is going on? Well, here’s the thing: While I am Midway City’s number one supervillain, Blitzkrieg, I am also Quickstrike, its number one superhero. Crazy, right?
See, in addition to being really strong, I’m also pretty fast. This power manifested right around the time I started to grow hair in previously perpetually-bare regions. It was a gradual thing, really. In my formative years, I ran track to stay in shape for the other sports I was participating in. Sure, you can be stronger than any man on the planet, but that doesn’t keep you from turning into a tank-ass. Also, there was this really hot girl, Becky Stevens, and she was on the track team. So, you know, that may have had something to do with my interest in running in circles after school.
Anyway, the speed thing was gradual. I noticed the more I pushed myself, the faster I’d go. I didn’t think anything off it until one day I was out walking around town. Not really paying attention, I stepped into the crosswalk while a car was heading my way. By the time I realized what was happening, I was already in one of those awkward walk-run type moves everyone makes when this type of thing occurs. Sure, I could’ve turned my shoulder into the car and been fine, but that would certainly raise question—and probably kill the driver also. So I made that move that everyone makes, except, I don’t know what it was—maybe stress—instead of doing it at normal speed, I was across the street in a flash. Like, bam, there I was. I caught the look of the driver. Her gaping mouth reaffirmed my belief that something incredible just happened.
So I started testing this stuff out. I’d go to large fields and run as fast as I could. I knew I was running faster, but had exactly no idea just how fast. I didn’t learn this until the day I decided I wanted to have some fun with the town. The idea was that I’d go to the old highway and just run along side cars while wearing one of those spooky clown masks (I never professed to being clever). So there I was, on the hillside next to the highway, mask on, ready to jump up and run. It was cars-a-plenty that day, all of which were going to see a clown running as fast as they were moving. And, if I was bored enough, they were going to get a face full of pasty white ass.
So I started running, and picked up speed. Faster and faster I went, and finally I started up the hill to the highway. Except, none of the cars were moving. Stopped, all of them. The drivers were all motionless as well, like everything had just suddenly frozen. That’s when I realized how fast I could be. And I can move even faster than that, to the point that it’s almost like teleportation.
There is a drawback, however. Running is excellent exercise for those who are not in the know. It burns massive amounts of calories if done at length or quite speedily. My body, as awesome as it is, is not exempt from that. So if I run really fast, my body burns up all that energy. If I haven’t eaten enough and drank enough water, I’ll be too exhausted to move.
Now to the “why?” of all this. You have to understand that I’m something of an attention-whore. I realized this when I used my superspeed to start winning track meets. I broke all of my high school’s records (reasonably, mind you, I wasn’t running like the Flash or anything) and even got a collegiate scholarship. I could’ve continued on breaking records, right up to Olympic ones, but I didn’t want that much attention brought on me … at least not while my face was visible. I only used it enough to get through school.
But when Blitzkrieg started getting national attention, something sparked in me. See, I was a star. This wasn’t some Spider-Man or X-Men junk, this was real. I was real. People loved it. I became the biggest reality star in the world. Fuck Kim and Khloe. Fuck the Jersey Shore. Fuck Survivor. Here I was, a real-life mutant or superhuman or whatever you want to call me, and I was robbing banks. And people loved it. Every time a news outlet broadcast my exploits, ratings went through the roof. Networks were even taking airtime to ask me for TV deals. It was glorious.
But knocking over banks lead me to be a one-trick pony, especially since my appearances were sporadic. That’s when I decided Midway City needed a superhero. Someone who could take on Blitzkrieg. And that person was Quickstrike. I purchased one of those new-aged biker jackets, donned some running shoes and acquired myself a wrestling mask. This thing is sweet. It’s all black except for a flaming star on the back. I was a badass superhero.
I made a name for myself by rounding up petty criminals for the police. I would’ve moved on to bigger fish, but the bigger fish are sort of hard to find. They don’t publicly broadcast where they are, and I’m hardly a detective. But the smaller thugs were good enough. Once again, I was in the media. Quickstrike was bigger than Blitzkrieg because he was a friggin’ good guy. People ate it up. On top of that, Midway City’s tourism industry boomed. Everyone wanted to get in.
Networks once again made offers, people came from afar and I posed with them. I met presidents and other dignitaries, was given the key to the city. It was great. Hollywood wanted my story. Vegas even put out a betting line on who would win: Quickstrike or Blitzkrieg.
And that’s when I realized I hit a snag. How the hell was I supposed to make that fight happen? I couldn’t use my speed to put on a show, because I’d be dead from exhaustion. I couldn’t have one win over the other, because an inevitable demasking would take place. That’s when Blitzkrieg’s appearances became even more sporadic. To make up for it, I had to start picking bigger targets.
And that’s partly why I’m in my current pickle of saving this hostage. Not about to save a damsel in distress or the President of the United States. No, I’m about to save Pink. The idiot who got shot and was snatched up by Esposito’s gang.
The other part is because of this girl I sort of have a crush on. Her name is Lilly, and damn is she beautiful. The previous evening, I was out with friends—of which she is one—and they were discussing Blitzkrieg’s heist. Now, I had known that Lilly’s father was a jeweler with his own store. What I did not know is that this store was on the same street at the bank I wanted to rob. I didn’t even know there was a jewelry store on that block. This fact, however, did not escape Pink’s notice.
“Did you see Blitzkrieg on the news?” Terry, my best friend from college, asked.
“Of course I saw him,” I said, hiding my excitement. For as long as “I’ve” been making the news, I still got giddy when people talked about it. “They say things got pretty violent.”
That part I was not so giddy about. But still, appearances, you know?
Jesse chimed in next. “No kidding,” she said, “they say two people were hurt in the shootout, and two of Esposito’s guys are in critical condition at the ICU. One’s barely holding on.”
Definitely not giddy.
“Those things tend to happen when a maniac throws tables and dumpsters at people.” That was Bill, Lilly’s current boyfriend. He’s a douchebag. “I don’t understand why the government doesn’t step in. Clearly the city is unable to stop him.”
“What makes you think the government can?” asked Terry.
“Because they’re the government,” he said and put his arms up, like what he was saying was so fucking obvious. “These are the same people who manufactured 9/11.”
“Christ, Bill,” I chimed in. “Knock it off with that conspiracy-theory bullshit.”
“Well I hope they stop him soon,” Lilly spoke up. “The police said the bank robbery and my daddy’s store being cleaned out could be linked.”
Here’s where the guilt started to settle in. “How do you mean?”
“Well, they looked at the tapes and ran a print they found,” she continued. “Some guy named Philip DeNunzo. He was just released from prison last week. His PO hasn’t heard from him since the bank was robbed and the cops think two robbings on the same block in the same week can’t be a coincidence.”
She shook her head and looked down. The name didn’t ring a bell at first, but then it came back to me. My suspicions would be confirmed later when I looked back at a parolee file that did belong to Philip DeNunzo. He was one of the four guys I selected to run this heist with me.
I wouldn’t find out until later that DeNunzo and Pink were one and the same. At the time, he could’ve been any of the other guys for all I knew. What I did know was that DeNunzo was missing and that the cops didn’t make any arrests outside of Esposito’s own guys.
Although Lilly had no idea that I was actually Blitzkrieg, it still stung that I was somehow culpable for what happened to her father’s store. By that point, the only decision I had left to make was whether or not I should approach this endeavor as Blitzkrieg or as Quickstrike. On one hand, if I did it as Quickstrike I could be in and out in no time. No harm, no confrontation. Pick Pink up and get back to his place.
On the other hand, why would Quickstrike have even cared in the first place? Further, why would he be investigating something like this. While it would’ve been nice for Quickstrike to have his first big criminal score, it’d have to wait. Blitzkrieg was going to take care of this situation.
Or, rather, Blitzkrieg is about to take care of this situation.
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