An excerpt from chapter five of my new adult fantasy romance, Superheroes Wear Faded Denim. One of my main characters, Don Shimada, contemplates the sacrifices he’ll have to make to become a superhero.
Everything was going to change now that the fate of mankind was sitting on his shoulders.
Even after he gulped down his drug shots of caffeine, he couldn’t keep his mind off Santiago. He tried to feed his hunger by googling summer tourist spots, Spanish recipes, earthquakes, but it wasn’t enough. Finally he typed in Chile. Everything that came up was about Santiago. Clicking on the link he read, “Feb. 27 an 8.8 magnitude Earthquake occurred 3:34 a.m. local time . . . Over 340 people have been killed, authorities are still searching . . . not much is left of a beautiful city known for its cherished, historical architecture.” It was nothing more than a dry summary that did not do any real justice for the travesty.
Stunned, he didn’t move, not even to breathe. It had all been true. Everything was going to change now that the fate of mankind was sitting on his shoulders. He could wash away his dreams of being a normal frat boy on his way to law school with drain cleaner. Focusing his energy on training for war, he knew where his life would go and what he’d become.
He rubbed his temples with clammy hands. He’d become that stoic little boy he was when traveling the world with his mother.
He used to spend all of his free time dreaming of taking the women he helped to a place where they would no longer need a one room shack for medical care. Being a nurse and health advisor for women in third world countries called for efficacy not a social sphere. His mother and a motley crew of traveling martial artists set up portable hospitals wherever they traveled. Most of the time they were small, one bedroom apartments with no air conditioning or running water. Their waiting rooms were the dusty streets where the crew taught the women and children basic defense. Like the perfect aid, he did whatever his mother commanded him to do.
Afterwards, Don remembered never wanting to practice with other children. His nights would be spent alone, swinging a saif until he collapsed. Later the crew would always find him in the dusty streets staring at the moon. They’d coax him into a circle. After a few jokes, they’d shove him in the middle of Capoeira. A rhythmic dance and hand clapping would ensue. He’d back flip in the air dodging playful blows to his head. They would always let him win.
He cherished those few moments, but good memories were few and far between. Most of his life was filled with angst and—“I don’t want to relive it,” he said aloud. “Not on anybody else’s terms.” If he was going to be forced to save anybody it would be in a business suit in a court room.
He went back to the blinking cursor just waiting for him to write the first sentence to his thesis. It didn’t have to be anything magical. He just needed to start.
‘Sex trafficking is a modern day form of slavery.’ He felt powerful. One sentence down, a thousand more to go. All truths set aside, these were strenuous circumstances. Bull spitting was going to have to do.
“Don,” he heard from out of nowhere. Gabriel’s voice was inside his head, right next to his thoughts.
He kept on typing, ignoring it. ‘It is man’s indirect way of keeping women from obtaining equality with—’
“Don, head to the black streets of campus.”
‘Women.’ Typo. He erased women. ‘Men.’
“You are the Paladin. We await you.”
He wasn’t sure what to type after that. He could elaborate on popular perceptions that deemed women inferior. ‘They are objectified,’ he typed.
“The battle between evil and good wages on. Paladin, head to the black streets of campus. There you will meet the King and Queen of the Low Court. They will aid you and Blissany Cherry, the Key, in this war.” The walls blurred into a vision of a girl with sun kissed skin and copper hued curls dragging herself to bed. Seconds later he was sitting in his car, staring past the glare of his headlights at a girl with her arms stretched out. Wolves flooded streets behind her, transitioning into human form as they paced the black pavements.
Startled, Don burst from his seat, knocking over his coffee. “This is never going to end,” he yelled as his chair toppled to the floor.
He slammed his laptop shut. He wasn’t putting up with this anymore. He was heading to the black streets of campus, wherever the hell that was, and find Gabriel to demand he stop messing with his head.