A Hero I Would Be!

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A man trudged through the murky swamp, his black cloak wavering in the wind. He looked up, spotting a moss-covered boulder just in time to see it shake, rumbling in the earth. All the other surrounding rocks were suddenly magnetized to the boulder as it shifted and turned, forming a towering golem-like creature. It stared down at him with a cold, stony glare from its sparkling diamond eyes.

He grinned, throwing off his cloak to reveal the slick, red stereotypical 'superhero' bodysuit beneath, a white 'S' plastered across the chest. "I am Captain Seismic, and I've come to hunt you down, beast!"

The Golem's rocky arm rose up to the sky, then it was brought down in a flash. Narrowly dodging the strike, Captain Seismic let it crash into the ground, embedding the beast's arm in the grimy sludge of the swamp. The hero skated across the shattered earth as if it were ice, sliding up the beast's arm as it attempted to rip it out of the earth.

"You were an easy one," Captain Seismic chuckled as he hopped from the beast's shoulder, landing on its head. "Hopefully the next will be more entertaining to fight!"

The hero's hand began to glow with hot red energy as he plunged it into the beast's head, tearing out the core: a glistening opal gemstone. Letting out a deafening shriek, the Golem creaked and wailed, eventually collapsing into a pile of pebbles.

Captain Seismic stood over the body of his enemy with a smug grin on his face as he made his declaration, tucking the opal into his pocket. "That's why you don't try to fight me, Captain—"

Reality shattered and Lucas was ripped out of his imagination as Jennifer, his mom, shouted from their house, "Come back inside, dinner's ready! And stop playing in the mud, you're gonna get dirty!"

"Okay, Mom!" He shouted. "Just lemme' finish my speech!"

His mom simply chuckled and slid the glass door closed, leaving Lucas alone with his pile of rocks. He straightened his posture, looking down at the pile. "That's why you don't try to fight me, Captain Seismic!"

He kicked at the heap of rocks and ran inside, taking his seat at the dinner table. "Breakfast for dinner tonight! So, what fun adventures did you have today?" Jennifer said, setting a plate of syrupy pancakes in front of him.

"I went through the swamps and defeated a Golem! It was crazy, you should've seen it!" Lucas picked up his fork, digging into his supper like a dog.

"I'm sure it was very fun. What's the name of your little hero again? Earthquake Man?"

He dramatically dropped his fork, gasping with his pancake-filled mouth. "Whhm Mmn Sei—"

"Swallow your food, honey."

Lucas chewed for a few seconds before gulping everything down, returning back to his over overdramatic exclamation. "I'm Captain Seismic!"

"Alright, well I hope you have fun on your next adventure." His mom played along, reminiscing on her old childlike innocence for a moment. "But I think it's Captain Seismic's bedtime."

"Yeah! I've got to be super strong and energized if I wanna fight. Oh, I almost forgot, look what I got!" Lucas reached into his pocket, pulling out the radiant opal Captain Seismic had retrieved from the beast. Holding it up, he showed his mom. "Look! Isn't it cool?"

"Lucas I…" She plucked the gemstone from his hands, studying it for a moment before looking back to him. "Where did you find this?"

"I got it from the Golem!" He beamed.

"I…" His mom paused. "Get to sleep, darling."


"Let's skip the introductions, eh?" Captain Seismic punched his fist forward, sending a shockwave of energy into the towering Golem, which stumbled back slightly. "You seem like a stronger one."

The Golem dashed forward in a blur, stopping where Captain Seismic had once stood. It slowly looked to the left to see him scoff, a cocky smile on his face. "I think you're forgetting one thing, beast."

"That I!" He rose his hand into the sky.

"Am!" His hand began to glow with red-hot energy once more.

"A hero!" The hero exclaimed, slashing his hand down as he clenched his eyes closed. A red pillar of force burst forth from his hand, slicing through the pile of rocks in front of him as if they were butter.

Lucas opened his eyes to see the cracked earth in front of him, a trail of destruction leading to their old oak tree, which looked as if it had been ripped in half.

Glimpsing down at his right hand— which was still a bright shade of red— he whispered under his breath:

"I am Captain Seismic."


When will you ever grow up? You aren't a fucking kid anymore.

Are you kidding me!? You're crying? Just be a—

A few blocks away in Site-87 Agent Cherry shot up in a cold sweat, awoken by a short boom that quaked through the earth. Rubbing sleep from his eyes, he hopped onto his computer, bringing up a digitalized map of Sloth's Pit. In the south of town, right off King Circle, a green circle flashed. Clicking on it, a camera feed of the area blipped onto the screen.

Oh my…

In the midst of the destruction-stricken land sat a small child— he couldn't have been more than eight years old— digging through a pile of pebbles with a glowing hand. What could've— No…

But… Cherry stopped. I should check…

Pushing his chair away from his desk, he pulled open the drawer behind him. Digging through it, he pushed past the random piles of notecards, pencils, and other supplies to find a small rectangular device with a 'Property of S&C Plastics' sticker on one side, a set of knobs on the other, and dials on the top, all connected to a metallic rod. The Pickman-Sinclair Narrative Fluctuation Detector.

He grabbed it and turned back to his desk, holding its' rod up the camera feed. It flickered for a moment before turning bright green, to which Cherry loudly sighed.

Do we even have protocols for this?


There was a rhythmic knocking on the door of Lucas' house,

"Coming!" Lucas's mom said, running to the door and opening it. "Hello, Mr…"

"Cherry." The man fidgeted, straightening his tie.

"Well, nice to meet you, I'm Jennifer." With a wave of her hand, she invited him into the house, squinting slightly as she studied his appearance. "Wait, it feels like I've… Oh! You're one of those plastics people, right? What, did Mr. Albany's lycanthropy act up again?"

"No, no. This is about your son."

Jennifer's face immediately darkened as she turned her face away from the anxious agent.

"I need to talk with him, if that's okay with you."

She opened her mouth as if she were about to say something, but held herself back, pointing at a nearby stairwell instead. "Lucas' room is the first door on the right. He's probably playing in his little fort."

"Thank you."

Cherry slowly walked through the house, the sound of his shoes on the hardwood floor breaking the tense silence as he made his way to a door. Knocking on it, he asked, "Lucas? I'm Agent Cherry, may I please come in?"

There was a small rustle of papers, then the boy replied through the door. "Shoes."

"Hmm?"

"Take your shoes off. Mom doesn't like it when people wear shoes on the carpet."

Feeling a subtle, warm nostalgia bubble up in his heart, a smile trickled onto Cherry's face as he was suddenly reminded of his own mother— how she had endlessly scolded him about tracking mud through the house when he came home from his little adventures to the nearby creek.

He slipped his black loafers off and quietly opened the door, shutting it as he stepped through. Blankets stretched from the child's desk to his bed, draping down to create a small fort. Lucas' face peeked through the flappy 'door' of the fort, before retreating back inside. "Come in," he whispered.

Cherry stifled a small laugh, then crawled inside. The inside of the fort was very cozy, with blankets padding the floor, a small, dim candle sitting in the middle of it all, surrounding by childlike, crayon drawings depicting a red-suited hero. Lucas sat inside, a plate of cookies beside him, and— despite being covered with a quilt, Cherry could see the faint red glow of his hand.

He took a moment to absorb the calm atmosphere of the fort before speaking. "So, Lucas, I noticed your hand is a bit… bright? Do you know how that happened?"

"I'm Captain Seismic." Lucas took the quilt off of himself, pointing towards one of the drawings on the floor, which depicted the red superhero fighting off a gigantic, rocky humanoid.

The agent studied the drawing, sighing. "Well, you see… I don't know how to put this lightly. You know Sloth's Pit isn't a normal town, correct?"

"Yeah. There's tons of cool stuff here…"

"Yes, some of it is cool, but… sometimes it can be a bit dangerous. There's this thing called The Narrative. I'm sure your mom has told you about The Hook-Handed Man. Well, he only exists because many of us believe in him. We think he's real, therefore he is."

"Well, good for him. Existing is fun."

"It sure is." Cherry let himself laugh before clearing his throat. "Anyways, I believe your hand is red because you think you're this… Captain Seismic?"

Lucas' brow furrowed. "I'm Captain Seismic, and I defend the world from monsters. Nobody's as strong as me!"

"I'm sorry, but—"

A sudden thunder shook the house, almost knocking the candle onto the blanketed floor. While Cherry errantly grabbed it, put it out, and made sure it would not tip over again, Lucas perked up, running out of the fort.

"W- Wait!" The agent stuttered, running after him.


Cherry sprinted out of the opened sliding glass door, his socked feet splashing into a puddle as he looked up into the clouded, rainy sky.

Floating in the air high above him was Lucas, whose hands were growing increasingly brighter as he charged up a burst of power. Twirling his fingers, he shot it forwards, dispersing the thick fog that had surrounded him. Squinting, Cherry could just make out a silhouette of—

The behemoth dashed forwards, rumbling the ground with every step. Lucas simply held his hand forward, forming a transparent scarlet shield in front of the Golem, which crashed into it violently.

"So you're the strongest?" The child's voice boomed, considerably deeper than his soft-spoken tone from before.

The Golem answered by raising one of its rocky hands and striking the shield, shattering it instantly.

"I guess you are, then. Well…" Lucas closed his hand into a fist as a violent beam of energy blasted towards the behemoth, which raised its rocky hands to form a blue beam of its own. As the rays met Lucas felt himself suddenly pushed back, yet he held his ground, pushing forward with a grimace.

As the child and the monster found themselves in a standoff, Cherry watched speechlessly. How the hell is he so strong? Is—

"Come on, Lucas!" The agent's head jerked back to see Jennifer shout towards the battle. "You can do it! You're a hero!"

Up in the sky, Lucas felt a sudden surge of power as he pushed himself forward.

Ah.

Cherry tried to blink it away, yet a single tear still ran down his cheek.

Of course.

Wiping his eyes with his sleeve, he cried into the sky: "Go Captain Seismic!"

And Lucas exploded with power, vaporizing the Golem once and for all. As his vision faded to black, he began to descend from the sky, right into the arms of his awaiting mother. She hugged him for a moment before looking up to Cherry.

"So, are—"

The agent interrupted her, mustering up a weak smile. "I think the issue has been dealt with. I… I'll take my leave." Turning, he paused for a moment before looking back. "Oh, and Jennifer?"

"Yes?"

"Keep being a good parent."


A few days later, Cherry yawned as they collapsed into their desk chair, pulling up the video feed behind Lucas' house.

There the child stood, swinging his arms in the air as if he were striking an invisible target. Suddenly, a red blast came bursting forth from his fist, flying off-camera, at which point he celebrated.

The agent giggled, closing the feed before relaxing back in the chair, letting his sleepy brain wander to the newly-uncovered whimsical corners of his imagination.

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