“911!” I slammed the door behind me.
“Don’t you give me sass, ya dick! Hurry the hell up.”
Mal scurried to the cabinet by his bed, where all the first-aid goodies were kept for occasions such as this. Of the two, I was always the one with some bloody gash needin’ fixin’.
Mal seemed to be out of breath. What the hell was he doing by himself before I came in?
Why do you have to go there, Mind of Mine?
“What happened this time?” He asked me.
“Was helping someone take stuff out of their trunk and they closed it down on my head by mistake. Hurt like a mother’.”
In the beginning, it was hard. I couldn’t, for the life of me, come up with a good excuse for my injuries. I think, once, I even said I tripped over a cat and that’s why I had a three-inch bloody gash on my back. Yeah. Some genius I am.
“Are you sure he did it by mistake? Maybe he had 60 seconds to get to know you and decided to make a service for the rest of us.”
I mocked-laughed at him. “So funny. Do you get paid for this comedy or am I just fortunate enough to get it for free? And unrequited?”
“For you, Bo? On the house.”
“You know,” I said, as he took out the needle and the string, “I don’t need this shade. I could just go to the emergency room like a normal person.”
“Oh, honey,” he said, mimicking Karen Walker our favorite television character and one we seemed to emulate a lot of, “Look at you, talking like all the youngin’s these days! Besides, if you went to the emergency room for every single one of your injuries, they would think you were so inept at life that you needed assistance to wash yourself.” Mal laughed, “I mean, you did fall in the bath the other week. I mean, really; how old are you?” Mal made a pouting face at me, “Does baby need a rubber floor in the tub? And a wittle wottle?”
“You have exactly 30 seconds to sew up the back of my head before I punch you through a wall.”
“Oh, sure! You’ll punch me through a cement wall, because, like, yeah, of course, you’re some sort of superman strong enough to do so but still fragile enough to slip in the tub.” He laughed. “Next, you’ll tell me you’re really Ace the Might.”
My heart fell. Silence crept into the room.
Neither of us said anything after that. Mal stitched up the back of my head and I took a shower to wash off the blood. When I came out, Mal had a bottle of Captain Morgan’s, a bottle of Coca-Cola, and a bag of ice waiting for me.
“Did you freaking teleport to the store while I showered?”
“Nothing so fancy, I promise.” I grabbed one of the glasses when Mal stopped me. “You ain’t getting nothing until you put pants on. A towel around your waist is not acceptable attire to be in my presence.”
“You’re so proper today, what crawled up your butt?”
Mal snapped his fingers. “Pants.”
While he turned on the TV, I changed my clothes. We shared a single room with a bath. There was nowhere to go for privacy except the bathroom which was too cramped to move around freely. However, we had this silent agreement about how if we knew the other needed to change, we would just turn our backs and let them. I changed quickly, but to be honest, all I wanted him to do was turn around and look at me.
“…the latest footage of Ace the Might and Darkcloud show an unbelievable match set in Downtown Square...”
Someone was quick on their feet. It hasn’t even been an hour since Darkcloud kicked my ass and video of it is already in the news. I always hated seeing footage of us. I looked ridiculous in that outfit. Darkcloud was dressed in a pair of black pants, a black turtleneck and a black mask that covered two thirds of his face. He only started dressing in black after he was named Darkcloud by the media.
When I first encountered him, he was dressed in normal civilian clothes; although he still had that mask. Something else peculiar about him is that his clothes never ripped, no matter how hard I hit him. He must have some sort of strengthening ability or something that he can pass on to whatever covers him? I have no idea. So far, in the whole damn world, Darkcloud was the only other person like me. I mean, I assume as no one else has stepped forward. And of course, because I am me, the only other person in the world who could possibly give me answers about what I am and why I can do the things that I can decided to be my enemy and refuses to speak to me.
I, on the hand? No so lucky.
I use to dress in civilian clothes as well. A mask was always a must. They always changed. At first, people were afraid of me because of the mask. People don’t trust someone who conceals their face. It’s only natural. During one of my ‘missions’ as I call them, I rescued a man from plane crash. It was serendipitous, to be honest. I was flying for fun, I was bored. And I came across his private plane as it was coming down on a mountain range. I pulled the plane to safety and there were no casualties. The owner of the plane was grateful for me. He had heard the stories of the ‘invincible man’ who had saved people from different accidents. After many conversations, the man, Allan Lance—billionaire entrepreneur, said he would give me an image to be known as: Ace the Might was born. He also gave me a ‘hero suit’ as he called it. Every couple of weeks I would go by his company to get it replaced. My hero suit was made of a skin tight, netted fabric. It was stronger and more flexible than Kevlar and did not lose its constitution as Kevlar did once it was ripped. It was blue and red in color. Allan said those were colors people most trusted in emergency situations. I did not have a cape, thank God, but I still had a mask. This one was smaller though, mostly covering my eyes.
We were flying across the sky, in the video, Darkcloud was almost on me, holding a city light pole. He had given me two good smacks already before we took the skies. It was always better to fight in the sky. No people to get hurt around us. Although falling debris was a problem, Darkcloud was never interested in hurting bystanders, only in stopping me.
“…we thought Ace the Might wouldn’t finish the fight in time to save the people still trapped on the rooftop of the burning building, but in the last moment, Ace the Might sent Darkcloud flying across the city with a single punch. There were no casualties; although the bill on the city’s rebuilding budget seems to be ever on the increase. Talks are rising about a new bill passing that will create a tax to accommodate these damages. The so-called ‘Act of Supers’ may go into effect as soon as 6 months from now, should it pass the House. Our sources confirm that it is almost certain that it will. In other news…—”
“That looked like it hurt,” Mal said.
“Darkcloud? I doubt it. He’s stronger than he looks.”
“No, trust me,” he said impatiently, “It did. And what is with that name? Darkcloud? He sounds like a James Bond villain.”
“Well, he’s never taken the time to speak in cameras; for all I know he loves it.”
“I sincerely doubt it. Although Ace the Might is no better.”
“God, you’re telling me. People have no imagination when it comes to this.”
Mal turned on the PlayStation and slumped down on one of the bean bags. He tried to hide it but I heard him groan.
“Is your back ok, grandpa?”
“Don’t joke. You have nothing to joke about, Mr. Tub. I just slept funny and I think I pulled a muscle.”
I sat on the other bean bag next to him and took my gaming control.
“Drink me.” I said, holding an empty glass.
“You can’t do it yourself?”
“I’m choosing the game.”
“You know it doesn’t matter, right? I always beat you whenever we play.”
“Maybe I let you.”
“Maybe, but you don’t. You just lose.”
Mal made me a drink while I chose a game. He was right. I always lost at whatever game we played. Sometimes I won, but I always knew it was just him letting me win. Not that I didn’t rub it in his face either way.
Stop it, Mind of Mine.
I put on one of the fighting games we had.
I sipped the drink as I got my ass handed to me again and again and yet again. The hours passed and both bottles were empty before the sun went down.
“I’m off tomorrow, but I work on Sunday.”
“God won’t be happy about that.”
“Do either of us care?”
“No, not really. And you work from home.”
We didn’t talk for a bit as we play the game and then he says,
“What are you thinking about?”
“Work as well.”
“Aren’t you off tomorrow too? Also, I’m sure the local market can do without its bakery manager for a weekend.” Mal laughed. He had the funniest laugh when he was drunk. I called him a giggly drunk. No matter what had happened during the day or any injury that made me feel like I wanted to die, his laughter was like a serenade to me. Medicinal, almost.
I on the other hand was all hands when I was drunk. This is why I always drink less than him. I drink enough to enjoy being drunk while still being in control of myself enough to stop myself from ripping off his clothes and making him mine.
It’s only been 2 years since I moved to this city and became Mal’s roommate. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with myself before then. I was lost. And I found myself in this city one day, just enjoying the sights when a gas main pipe blew up. The city went into a state of panic and I grabbed the first thing that could cover my face, a ridiculous pair of fake glasses with a fake nose, and saved as many people as I could. I couldn’t save all of them but I did the best I could. When it was all over, some people were wondering why I had such ridiculous glasses on, but all happy to see me. I was known throughout the whole country already. I decided to stay in the city for a couple of months and then leave for another city. That way I could seem impartial to any one place. It was better than becoming a single city’s ‘Savior’ as I was often called by the media. I needed to help as many people as I could, not just a single city. But that way of thinking didn’t last long after I met Mal.
I needed a place to stay and the savior-business wasn’t a payable one. So I took a job in a market and searched for temporary cheap places. Mal’s was the first one I found and after I saw him, the only one I cared about finding.
The rest, as they say, is history. It’s been two years since that day.
And I don’t want to leave.
I don’t want to leave Mal.
Mal always snored lightly when he slept. Even during sleepless nights, his snoring soothed me. It made me feel, I don’t know…normal? Content?
I picked him up and flew him to his bed. It wasn’t risky to do so. Mal always fell asleep after heavy drinking—and we had drunk a whole bottle in less than two hours. He was a lightweight. And I’m sure whatever incident of him waking up could easily be explained by his being drunk and imagining shit.
Out of all of my abilities, flight is the one that most people are confused with. My strength is way above what should be normal, but it is not ‘magical’ enough. The same goes for my speed. My body is near-invulnerable. I can withstand bullets, explosions, blades, acid, lightning, lava, deep-sea pressure, and many other things—and yes, unfortunately I know from experience. My sinuses were never better after being thrown into that volcano though. There is nothing on the planet, which I have so far encountered, that can harm me, save for one thing: Darkcloud.
If he beats me with weapons or say, light poles like today, it will hurt. I do feel pain, although my threshold is higher than any regular human could ever hope to achieve. However, when he hits me with his fists, I bruise. If he hits hard enough, I can get lacerations. Darkcloud has always aimed to stop me, but he has never tried to kill me. He doesn’t steal or create conflict or destruction. He only surfaces when I come to help. And only to try and stop me. I don’t understand him.
Why fight me if not to defeat me?
Another one of my abilities is something I call ‘mass control’. I am able to calm the emotions of large groups of people at will. Something that comes in handy when I’m trying to end a catastrophe as swiftly as possible. Calming panicking masses is an invaluable tool there. I don’t understand exactly how it all works, but I do know that it is a ‘psychic’ ability. I can feel my brain do something when I will this power to come forth. What? I don’t exactly know.
Then comes flight. Out of all my abilities, this was the hardest to master, and yet, this is the one ability I understand more than the others. When my abilities started to develop at age 19, I felt like there was a sphere inside of me; a sphere located on the bottom of my sternum. I imagined that inside of that sphere was a needle like a compass always pointing to the north. And then I learned I could move that needle at will. I could make it go around and around, like a compass unable to find a magnetic field. When this happened, I floated. Making the needle spin faster made me fly. The faster it spun, the faster I flew. I don’t know how Darkcloud is able to fly like I am. Did he use the same method? Or something different?
Why were we special? I never heard of anyone else. I kept this a secret to everyone. How could I trust anyone with this secret? I couldn’t bear being made into a lab rat for the rest of my life. Although, as I am invulnerable and able to rip anything into pieces, I doubt any human could come up with a way to immobilize me.
My abilities first came to be when I turned 19; actually on my birthday. I was alone, never was much of a people person. My parents died when I was a teenager, and I was raised by a family friend until I came of age and decided to disappear at 18. The day of my birthday, I was camping in the woods. I was swimming in a river, when a flash flood came down and swept me away. It was the most terrifying event of my life. I don’t know how far I was taken by the current, but I couldn’t stop until I fell over the waterfall. I thought I was dead. When I opened my eyes, I was hovering in mid-air.
It took me years to master my abilities. I lived alone in the wilderness during that time. I couldn’t control my strength or my speed. I tried to walk, and I burrowed a path on the ground from how fast I moved. I tripped once, falling against a tree and completely uprooted the damn thing. I was a damn menace. A year of solitary confinement in the wilderness and training my control over the abilities allowed me to return to the civilization. It has been five years since then.
And two years since I met Mal and my whole life changed. Again.
Laying down on my bed, I watch him sleep. He looks serene and happy.And so am I.